Floods, strikes, security: French tourism faces challenges

Paris, Jun 4: The weather is awful, striking workers and widespread flooding are causing travel chaos and security fears following deadly extremist attacks last year in Paris still linger in people's minds.

Welcome to France and especially its capital city. It's been an uncomfortable time for French tourism and officials worry that further trouble could damage the country's image just as it prepares to host Europe's leading sports event the 2016 European Championship soccer tournament.

French tourism faces challenges

"I have to admit that the strikes, the rains, the attacks they really damaged the image of France for our foreign tourist friends," says Herve Becam, vice president of France's union of hoteliers.

Becam says hotel occupancy rates were down about 25 percent in Paris but with Euro 2016 starting next Friday, the situation could still turn around. Paris is one of nine French cities hosting the tournament that captivates Europe for a month.

Read More: Rivers in France, Germany burst their banks; floods kill 6

Others in the country's tourism sector have urged workers angry over proposed government labor changes to pull back on their repeated strikes and protests — some of which have left long lines at gas stations, fuel shortages and bridges blocked by barricades.

"There's still time to save the tourist season by putting an end to these blockages being broadcast worldwide," said Frédéric Valletoux, head of the Paris region's tourism committee. His appeal, however, appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

On Thursday striking workers created blackouts by cutting power to a big electricity line in western France, while other protesters briefly occupied train tracks at a Paris railway hub.


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